Address by President Nelson Mandela to the Provincial Synod of the Moravian Church in South Africa, Port Elizabeth

10 July 1998

Bishops, Brothers and Sisters;
Members of the Synod and Visitors to the Synod,

Allow me to thank you most sincerely for inviting me to be with you on this occasion. It has a special meaning for me, because as you will know, I decided in 1995 to rename my official residence in Cape Town after Genadendal, where the first Moravian mission in South Africa, was established.

Wat my so diep beindruk het in verband met die geskiedenis van Genadendal is hoedat dit in die donkerte van daardie tydperk van ont-eiening en verarming van ons mense, 'n ligpunt van hoop en ontwikkeling was

Op 'n tyd toe die geskiedenis van ons land 'n heel ander koers ingeslaan het, was Genadendal 'n baken van wat moontlik was indien elkeen as gelyke in die aangesig van God aanvaar is. Met die klem op opvoeding en onderwys, die ontwikkeling van ekonomiese vaardighede en die algemene geestelike wen materiele ontwikkeling van gemeenskappe, was Genadendal 'n baie vroee voorloper van 'n heropbou en ontwikkelingsprogram.

Ek weet dat wat op Genadendal bereik is, besiel is deur die visie en toewyding van die Morawiese kerk. Daarom is dit vir my, as inwoner van daardie ander Genadendal, so 'n besondere voorreg om hier by u Provinsiale Sinode te kan wees.

I also know that apart from the importance of this Synod itself, you have just marked the 261st anniversary of the Moravian Church in South Africa. You can look back with pride on over two and half centuries of contributing to the development of our people, both spiritual and social. In more recent times, too, the Moravian Church played an important role in the struggle against apartheid.

As a product of a mission education myself, I know personally how important the churches have been in a country where the government took no responsibility for the education of the majority of the population.

All of us know, too, that the noble values which are strengthened by such an education, the principles of justice, mutual respect and tolerance, do not become a part of our social reality without struggle.

It was perhaps inevitable that even a church such as yours would experience the separation amongst its members that our country's history brought everywhere and in every sphere of life.

It was also natural that when the Moravian church decided a few years ago to become one church again it would also have to overcome the effects of many years of indoctrination and enforced separation.

It requires much hard work and respect for each other to turn the variety of language and culture in our country into the source of strength that it really is, rather than an instrument for creating division and mistrust that apartheid made it.

It is therefore a particular joy to learn that you have just accepted and adopted a new constitution, entrenching and protecting the unity of the church.

South Africa has seized the chance that freedom brings to begin building a better life for all its people. Such a process brings a fundamental social and political transformation that is bound to awaken anxieties and concerns in all our communities, whether it be African, Coloured, Indian or White.

We appreciate the concerted efforts your church to overcome within your own body the divides that our social and political past created. It is a practical and valued contribution to nation-building, and strengthens us for the even greater tasks of today and tomorrow.

Inkolo idlale indima enkulu ekukhuseleni isidima sethu ngexesha lengcinezelo nongcikivo, kuba isigcine sinombono welizwe elitsha elinobulungisa. Namhlanje, inkululeko isiphathele ithuba lokuba umbono wethu welo lizwe siwuphumeze, kungoko sijonge ukuba amaziko enkolo mawadlale indima ekhokelayo esisa ekuphumezeni loo mbono.

Limfuno zabantu bethu zandile kwaye iminqweno nenjongo zethu sililizwe ayinakuze ifezwa ngurhulumente eyedwa. Sijongene nomtyholi ofumene ithuba lokwakha indlwana yakhe kanomyayi ngelithuba thina besixakekile sisilwa ingcinezelo. Ubundlobongela, urwaphilizo, nezinya izenzo zondlandlathekiso ziluxanduva Iwethu Sonke.

As I said: religion helped us as a people to keep alive the vision of a better society. Today it is called upon to help realise that vision in practice. It has a particular role to play as a partner in rebuilding the morality of our society.

The moravian passion for welfare work, the profound understanding of the importance of education and training, and the dedication to spiritual and social development are invaluable assets as we face these challenges.

We take inspiration from the fact that the Synod's theme is "A New Beginning". It tells us that our nation does have a tried and trusted partner in our efforts to turn South Africa in to the country of our dreams.

President and Members of the Synod,

It has been a great privilege to be with you today.

We wish you strength and every success in your work in the future.

I thank you.

Issued by: Office of the President

Source: South African Government Information Website